If you’ve ever considered owning your own chickens, you’re not alone. In fact, with a global pandemic in our midst and unemployment numbers rising, this past spring saw a major surge in local chicken purchases.
Farm-fresh eggs sound pretty good right about now, huh? But if you live within Chattanooga city limits, you may not be legally allowed to own chickens on your property.
Owning backyard chickens
Within the city limits, female chickens — or “laying hens” — can’t be kept on property other than agriculturally-zoned land unless they are kept on land that is at least 5 acres, according to this city ordinance, and roosters are prohibited anywhere except on agriculturally-zoned land.
If you pass the 5-acre requirement, an annual permit is required to own chickens. The permit’s initial cost is $50 for review + inspection of the coop, and annual renewal fees are $20. According to this city ordinance from 2013, you can get an annual permit at McKamey Animal Center.
Rules for owning chickens within city limits also include requiring a fenced enclosure that is either covered or 42 inches high + a covered predator-resistant henhouse, hens can only be used for personal use (aka, you can’t sell your eggs), and no more than 10 laying hens are allowed per single-family dwelling. Any broken rules from the ordinance can be met with a $50 fine + any other enforcement that the city may decide to take.
What is agriculturally-zoned land, and what does it mean for chicken ownership?
If you’re on agriculturally-zoned land, you can legally own both laying hens and roosters. However, your land has to satisfy the following conditions in order to be agriculturally-zoned to own fowl, according to this city ordinance:
- Fencing of a pasture area + placement of new barns or buildings that house livestock or fowl must be 150 feet from any property line.
- No more than 20 fowl should be kept per square acre
- Fowl should have adequate shelter to protect them from the elements + be confined at all times in an enclosure that is no less than 18 inches high and has at least 10 square feet of floor area for each fowl.
- The enclosure must be kept clean + sanitary
- All feed should be kept in rat-free, rat-proof containers or rooms.
Still have some lingering questions? Check out this local Facebook page, Chattanooga Chicken Legal, for more helpful information.